Blood of Birds

Note: Hi! The following is a 2nd generation Harry Potter fanfiction, with main characters being Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, and Albus Potter. It will be comprised of four parts, the first of which will follow Rose. There will also be seven one-shots (or side-alongs) following other characters at points throughout the series, each uploaded separately. I've also taken the liberty to include a few re-quotes, courtesy of JK Rowling and Steve Kloves of course, to pay homage to the original books and films. So without further ado, here is Chapter 1. Happy reading!

~ Lauren



9. The Cleaning

Hogsmeade was packed with people at every corner, the third and fourth years buying candies at Honeydukes, the teachers stopping inside The Hog's Head bar to get warm, and the older students all at The Three Broomsticks for a pint of butterbeer. Rose and Scorpius were doing just that, walking through the light February snow, on their way to a double date with Lucy and Lorcan. Rose had practically dragged Scorpius outside to get him to go with her, and he still wasn't happy about it.

"I just don't understand why we suddenly need to socialize more. I mean, why can't we just have a drink with Al like we normally do?" Scorpius whined. He was walking a few steps behind Rose, still hoping that she might change her mind and let him go back to the castle.

"Because," Rose spat at him. "You've been cooped up in school for weeks, babbling non-stop about your poor arm." Scorpius had broken his arm during his Quidditch match against Ravenclaw a few weeks ago, thanks to one of Lysander's bludgers. It was to be expected, and Scorpius was still able to catch the snitch after knocking Abby Chang-Turner off her broom within the first ten minutes of the game. Slytherin won, and Scorpius's arm was magically healed by the next morning, but he still used it as an excuse not to go into Hogsmeade with Rose.

Ever since Lily had spread word about them to the entire school, it hadn't been easy to find much privacy, and Scorpius argued that it was just better for them to remain inside on the weekends. Rose, however, was beginning to miss the rest of her friends, and needed to get out.

"But you know what Scorpius," Rose continued, nearly yelling at this point, though not in a violent way. "You are fine! You're just making excuses."

Scorpius stopped walking then, and Rose turned to face him as he shrugged his shoulders, lifted his arms, and said, "Yeah, and I was beginning to wonder why… until NOW!"

"Oh please," Rose sighed. "Tell me, what is so bad about talking to other people? And they're not even strangers, they're my friends."

Scorpius rolled his eyes and answered, "Rose, they are not your friends. Al and I, we're your friends, but Lucy and Lorcan? They barely even talk!"

"No, that's only because you've never been near enough to hear them!" Rose yelled again, before turning around and continuing to walk toward the café.

"Rose, wait!" Scorpius called, running after her. Once he caught up, he grabbed her shoulder to make her stop again and turned her toward him. "It's not that I don't like your friends, it's just that I don't really like anyone… except you, that is. And really, what else do I need?"

For a moment, Rose listened to him and contemplated his words. Scorpius had a way of being extremely convincing when he wanted to be, but Rose refused to buy into his act. In retaliation, she looked up at him with a sorrowful expression and sighed again, this time acting apologetic. As he smiled back at her, she opened her mouth and slowly changed her expression to one full of arrogance as she said, "Oh, you're going to have to do a lot better than that if you expect me to turn around now."

Scorpius shut his eyes and inhaled deeply, leaning his head back in frustration, but Rose continued on her way, knowing that he would follow. As he did so, he called from behind, "You do realize who Lorcan's twin brother is, don't you?"

Rose didn't blame Scorpius for wanting to avoid any sort of interaction with Lysander, the other Scamander, but from what Rose knew of Lorcan, he was the complete opposite of his brother: humble rather than conceited, quiet rather than loud, and sweet rather than satirical. Of course, Scorpius wouldn't believe her even if she tried to explain this to him.

"Why yes, I am well aware actually," Rose replied, if just to cause Scorpius a little bit of grief. She couldn't help it; seeing him scramble was quite entertaining, and after all that they had been through lately, they needed some light-hearted arguments in their lives.

"Oh, great," Scorpius said sarcastically. "That's perfect."

Rose giggled and waited for him to catch up some more as she stood just outside the crooked, brick building. Once he approached, he reluctantly opened the door for her and she walked inside.

The old restaurant looked just the same as it always had. On the far side of the main room was an enormous fireplace that provided the perfect amount of heat to counteract England's winter weather. Above it was an array of various stuffed animal heads and antlers, while the room itself was filled with dark wooden tables and chairs, most already occupied by other Hogwarts students.

Still in the entryway, Scorpius pulled off the striped, knitted hat Rose was wearing by its pom-pom as Rose asked, "Do you see them anywhere?"

Looking around, Rose and Scorpius took note of everybody who was there, most of whom were already staring at Hogwarts' newest couple. Maddi Bulstrode and best friend Patty Parkinson, two 5th year Slytherins, were over by the bar, and were making an obvious attempt to role their eyes at Rose, who was standing with the boy they had been gawking over for years. Perhaps the only people who weren't looking over at them were Hugo and Nigel, who seemed to be having an argument by the window, and James and Caitlin Finnigan, who were speaking to one another very seriously at a table under the stairs. James hadn't yet told Caitlin about what he had done with her sister, but Rose suspected that he might be doing so now. Lucy and Lorcan, however, were nowhere to be found, until Scorpius pointed up at the second floor and said, "There they are, just up there."

Rose nodded and then followed him up the staircase and to the table where the other couple was seated. Lucy immediately stood up and ran over to Rose to give her a hug, but the two blonde boys merely nodded at each other.

"It's about time we did this," Lucy exclaimed as everybody sat down, she and Lorcan on one side and Rose and Scorpius on the other. "Ever since you two got together, I feel like I haven't been able to see you at all!" she added to Rose.

"It really hasn't been that long," Scorpius mumbled, to which he received a sharp jab to his side by Rose.

"I know what you mean," Rose took over, ignoring Scorpius and focusing on Lucy. "But you're the one who's been distracted all year."

Lucy giggled then and Lorcan said, "Oh, I suppose that's my fault, isn't it?"

Rose laughed and replied, "It's quite alright actually, I don't blame you for it. Anyway, before you came around, she was just some girl who was always hiding out in the greenhouse." Lucy's favorite subject was Herbology, and she used to spend a lot of time outside class tending to her dear plants.

Everybody laughed at this, Lucy blushing slightly. Scorpius, however, remained completely silent next to Rose as he looked over the railing and down at the bottom floor, eyeing the door with extreme interest. When a waiter appeared, he perked up a bit and ordered four butterbeers for the table.

"So Rose, ready for the match coming up?" Lorcan asked. He was a Beater and Captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, just like Lysander was for Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor was playing them at the end of the month.

"I think so," Rose replied, Scorpius rolling his eyes in her peripheral vision. James had been working the team hard lately, and Scorpius was well aware of this, and the fact that Rose was clearly downplaying it to her competition. "How about you?"

"As best we can be," Lorcan answered. "But our team's struggling a bit this year, that's no secret. I guess that's what happens when half the team graduates and has to be replaced." The Hufflepuff team was largely seventh years last season, and Rose remembered how intimidating they seemed. Now though, most of them were fourth years who were no bigger than Rose herself.

"It's really just the luck of the draw, I suppose," Rose said, Lorcan nodding in agreement.

It was only a few moments later when Scorpius shifted in his seat abruptly, turned to Rose (ignoring Lucy and Lorcan), and said, "I'd like to leave. Now." He was raising his eyebrows and motioning toward the door behind him, but it was too late for them to go. Just as Rose spotted Lysander, he too spotted her, and was headed for the stairs.

As Lucy and Lorcan looked too, the latter of them sighed and said, "Oh god, I'm sorry. He doesn't look happy."

Sure enough, Lysander approached as if in a rage, looking straight to Lorcan as he tried to mask his anger and asked, "Well, well, what do we have here?"

"Lysander, I can explain," Rose begged, but he wouldn't look at her.

"Lysander man," Lorcan said to his twin brother while standing up, "Come on, it's nothing personal."

"Oh yeah, I know," Lysander brushed it off. He then turned to Scorpius, "How's your arm? Better?"

Scorpius stood then as well, pushing his chair back and ready to lunge at Lysander, but luckily the table was in the way. They had drawn a large crowd at this point, and even people from downstairs were staring up at them. Realizing that there was nothing that he could do, Scorpius leaned toward Rose and whispered, "Let's just get out of here."

She nodded and began to gather her things, but Lysander said, "Oh, don't leave on my account. I mean, it's not like I'm the only one who disapproves…"

Scorpius shuffled slightly as he said this, but Rose pushed him out of his seat and led him to the staircase. She was just waving goodbye to Lucy and was about to descend when Lysander called, "Just look around you!"

As they jogged down the stairs, Rose couldn't help but notice that all eyes were on them. Lysander had a point. Though they didn't necessarily disapprove, it was true that people seemed to be thoroughly fascinated by the prospect of a Weasley-Malfoy couple.

Once finally away from them all and back on the main road, Scorpius put Rose's hat on her head and said, "Well that was fun, wasn't it?" He was teasing her, and clearly wanted her to admit that he had been right about not wanting to come.

"Alright," Rose sighed, brushing a strand of curly, red hair out of her face. "I see your point."

"Thank you," Scorpius said. "Now can we please go back to the castle?"

"I suppose," Rose answered. "But I mean, even there we won't have anywhere to go. We can't exactly be in each other's common rooms." It was clear at this point that they needed to find somewhere they could be alone, but there were only so many places at Hogwarts that remained completely empty, and most were empty for a reason.

"I know," Scorpius replied. "But we'll think of something," he said as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and began walking back toward Hogwarts. "That is, as long as you promise not to go on any more double dates."

"Hey, it could have been Al and Abby," Rose joked.

Scorpius immediately tensed upon hearing this and said through clenched teeth, "That's not funny," to which Rose burst out laughing.

With no ideas of where they could possibly hide, Rose instinctively headed for the library. She was going to find a copy of Hogwarts, A History, to see if there was a detailed map of the castle in it, but she thought it best not to tell Scorpius this until they got there.

Of course, when they arrived, things only got worse, as they found Albus perusing among the potions section, with Abby only a few yards away, lounging on the couch in front of one of the fireplaces. Scorpius groaned upon seeing her, but it would be rude to ignore their mutual best friend, so both he and Rose walked over to them.

"Hey, what are you looking for?" Rose asked as she approached Al, who hardly ever came to the library. Scorpius was hiding behind her with his head down. He could be over-dramatic sometimes, but when it came to Abby, it would be more of a shock if he didn't act this way.

"Oh, hey," Al said, noticing her, but not too surprised by the matter. "Um, Professor Pontner recommended a potions book for me, so I'm just looking for it."

Rose nodded and looked up at the large shelf of books that reached all the way to the ceiling. He would be hard-pressed to find a single book if he kept on looking one at a time. "You know, you could just use a summoning charm," Rose suggested.

"Oh, right," Al agreed. "Um, Accio Moste Potente Potions…" he said with a flick of his wand, but nothing appeared.

"Huh, that's rather odd," Rose said. "Are you sure it's not in the Restricted Section? Did she give you a note for it?"

Albus thought for a moment before answering, "Yeah, she did actually. I'll go look over there." He then left for the area of the library furthest from its entrance. The Restricted Section wasn't as frightening as Madame Pince made it out to be, though. In fact, Rose had read many of the books found behind its rope fence, and most were just advanced literature, not necessarily dangerous.

With Albus gone for the moment, Abby turned around on the couch and faced Rose and Scorpius. She then held up a cup of tea and said in her best attempt at a British accent, "Sipping tea by the fire is swell, isn't it?"

Rose chuckled and nodded as Abby turned back around, but Scorpius rolled his eyes and mumbled under his breath, "Pushing people in is fun as well."

Rose was about to push him back for saying such a thing, but he was saved when Al reappeared, a book in his right hand. "I got it," he said. "Thanks Rose."

Hearing her queue that they were ready to leave, Abby stood from her spot on the sofa and walked around it next to Al. "What are y'all looking for?" she asked, back to her normal southern self.

Scorpius held his breath so as not to say anything uncalled for. He couldn't stand Abby's real accent. Across from him, Al asked, "Oh yeah, what happened with your double date?"

When Scorpius winced in embarrassment, Rose answered, "It didn't pan out. Actually, we're trying to find a map of Hogwarts or something. We've been feeling a little claustrophobic lately."

"You could ask James for his map, you know," Al suggested, but Rose merely shrugged. James had enough on his plate right now, and she didn't want to bother him, even if it was just to take a peak at his prized Marauder's Map.

"Well, there's always the Room of Requirement," came a high-pitched but quiet voice from behind one of the stacks of books. All four of them turned to see who it was, only to find Holly Longbottom walking around the corner, her hands full of books from the Herbology section.

Albus, Abby, and Scorpius looked thoroughly confused, but Rose's face lit up with excitement. "Holly!" she exclaimed. "That's brilliant! Gosh, why didn't I think of it before?"

"Well, if I may," Holly replied. "You're just not as good a finder as us Hufflepuffs."

Everybody was even more confused now, but Rose ignored Holly's comment. "But wait," she asked. "Do you know where it is, the room? I always thought it was hidden somewhere."

"Of course it is," Holly agreed. "But only from plain sight. I use spectrespecs though, which make things much clearer." She could have just explained that she had found the room through spending so much time at Hogwarts, since she lived here year-round with her father, but this seemed much too simple for her.

"Can you take us there?" Rose asked, getting antsy.

"Yes, of course," Holly nodded. She then looked around the room, trying to figure out where to leave her books, before spotting Albus standing right in front of her, and shoving them all into his arms. She then walked out of the library, and Rose grabbed Scorpius's arm as she followed, waving to Al as they left.

On their way out, Rose noticed a girl sitting at a desk by the library's entrance. She was the same girl Rose had noticed back in the beginning of the year, standing just outside of the hallway brawl between Albus, Scorpius, and Vincent Goyle. Now, she was alone, writing what looked like a letter and not taking her memorable, bright green eyes off of it for even a second. For some reason, Rose was curious about her, but once again she didn't have the time to introduce herself, as Scorpius yelled at her to catch up. Apparently, Holly was oblivious to the pace of others.

Holly informed them that the room they were looking for was on the 7th floor, so they would have to walk up three flights of stairs to get to it. Once they arrived, they bumped into Hugo and Nigel, both of whom were still dressed in their winter clothes and had red cheeks from the cold that perfectly matched their ginger hair. They must have just gotten back from Hogsmeade.

The boys were whispering to each other, clearly not wanting anyone to hear them, hiding behind a tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy trying to teach trolls how to dance ballet, which was a little ways down the hall from the portrait hole that led to the Gryffindor common room. As they spotted Holly, Rose, and Scorpius, they stopped talking and walked into the middle of the corridor.

"Hey Rosie," Hugo said, acting completely normal, even with Nigel standing behind him saying nothing and looking as if he was about to cry. Rose would have asked him what was wrong, but she was too focused on the task at hand.

"What are you doing?" Hugo asked, curiosity taking full control over him.

"You know, I'd like to know that myself, actually," Scorpius chimed in, holding up an arm and looking pointedly at Rose, who had forgotten to explain herself to him.

As Holly started randomly walking back and forth across the hall, Rose said impatiently, "Just hold on, you'll see."

Then suddenly, the wall opposite the tapestry started to move, and right in the middle of it, from the floor up, grew an extremely large door with beautifully patterned engravings all over it. When it nearly reached the ceiling, it stopped, cemented its place in the wall with a large bang, and then opened itself up in front of the five students.

Holly walked right inside, but the rest of them stood in the hall for a short moment, Rose and Scorpius gaping up at it, Nigel backing away in fear, and Hugo smiling from ear to ear. "Wicked," he laughed, before following Holly through the open door.

Rose and Scorpius looked to each other and shrugged before they too walked under the archway, Nigel close behind. As soon as they were all in, the door closed shut once more. It didn't disappear from their sight, but Rose could hear something moving again from the other side of the wall.

"Okay, now tell me what this place this exactly," Scorpius said, staring around at the room they were in. It was enormous, the size of a large cathedral, and had high windows on every side, though there wasn't a view of the outside world through any of them. Inside the room, piles upon piles of objects were spread about the floor, from a stack of old, broken furniture, to heaps of books that looked as if they had been nearly burnt to a crisp.

"The Room of Requirement," Rose stated. "Also known as the Come and Go Room. The Room of Requirement only appears when a person has real need of it, and is always equipped with the seeker's needs." She too was marveling at what Holly had found for them, though the shape it had taken seemed rather odd.

"So, say you really needed a toilet…" Hugo inquired.

"Charming, Hugo. But yes, that is the general idea," Rose answered.

"It's brilliant!" Scorpius said. He had always admired places that worked as good hiding spots. Rose supposed that this was only normal, considering that he had grown up in an enormous mansion with hardly anybody ever at home but him.

"But if it can take the shape of anything," Nigel said from behind them. "Why does it have all this stuff in it?" Rose had been wondering the same thing.

"This is the way I found it the first time," Holly explained. "I was looking for a place to store some Devil's Snare I was growing, and this is what it gave me. It seems like this is the place it shows anybody wanting to hide something, and apparently people have been doing just that for years."

"It must have burnt in the Battle of Hogwarts though," Scorpius said, noticing the books that Rose had eyed before. "There's even ash all across the floor."

"Years?" Hugo asked, looking excited. "I bet there's loads of cool stuff in here…" He then jet off behind some giant stuffed troll to explore.

"Hugo!" Rose called after him, but he was already long gone. She hadn't wanted her and Scorpius's private place to include her little brother, but Hugo had a way of showing up at awkward times, whether he was wanted there or not.

"Don't worry, Rose," Nigel said. "He'll tire eventually."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Rose replied. Still, she decided to look around as well, since there was nothing better to do. Nigel and Holly stayed by the door and sorted through the books while Rose followed Scorpius through an aisle of bloodstained swords and axes.

After passing a large mirror with gold embellishments, Scorpius stopped and pointed to a cage with an odd-looking skeleton in it. "Here, look at this," he said, motioning to it for Rose.

She walked over and made a disgusted face as soon as she saw the five-legged pile of bones. Just as Scorpius was about to continue walking however, Rose spotted an old cupboard behind the cage that still looked perfectly in tact. "Wait, what's that?" she asked, signaling for Scorpius to come back over.

Together, they pulled the cage out of the way, revealing the dark cabinet that looked as if it was blistered by acid. Atop it sat an ugly warlock with a dusty wig on its head. Rose couldn't explain why she was drawn to this object, out of all of the rest in the room, but it did seem to be one of the only ones that hadn't been at all plagued by the fire.

Slowly, Rose opened the door of the cupboard, which did in fact feel very sticky, like some strong potion had been poured all over it. Sure enough, the inside was just as untouched, and on the top shelf laid a book that wasn't at all tarnished, though it still looked old and ratty.

Rose grabbed it and closed the cupboard. Turning to Scorpius, she opened the front cover and read, "This book is property of the Half-Blood Prince."

"The Half-Blood Prince?" Scorpius asked. "Who's that?"

Rose shrugged and answered, "I've no idea. It looks just like the textbooks all the N.E.W.T. students have for Potions class, but there's writing all over the margins of every page."

"Huh," Scorpius said, not all that interested. "Maybe we should just give it to Al then… it wouldn't be useful to any use to us."

"That's true," Rose agreed, holding on to the book.

A few minutes later, Hugo called out that he hadn't found anything that interesting, and that he was bored (though his pants and jacket looked abnormally bulky when he appeared). They all left the room then, Hugo skipping off to Gryffindor Tower with Nigel trailing behind him. Rose and Scorpius stayed behind to thank Holly, but then she too left for her own common room. It was already late, and the five of them had missed most of supper while searching the Room of Requirement, so Rose and Scorpius gave each other a kiss goodnight and then headed off in their separate directions.

Later that week, it was St. Valentine's Day at Hogwarts. Rose and Scorpius, as usual, didn't have any special plans for it, but Rose was slightly disappointed as her last class of the day came to a close, and she realized that she had hardly even seen Scorpius, let alone wish him a Happy Valentine's Day.

It had been a relatively hectic week leading up to the holiday, with the castle being decorated in floating heart balloons and love potions, and all the kids sneaking out to buy last-minute gifts in Hogsmeade for their secret valentines. Rose had had to help plan all of it, along with the other Gryffindor prefects. This, combined with an enormous Defense Against the Dark Arts essay that the fifth years had been assigned in preparation for their O.W.L.'s had kept both Rose and Scorpius fairly busy, so they hadn't gotten to try out their new alone space yet.

Today though, Rose had been hoping to do just that, but Scorpius was nowhere to be found. He had come in late for DADA, and so he sat in the back, too far from Rose and Al to sneak in any conversation. Afterward, Rose had had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs, in which Lucy chatted up a storm about the surprise gift that Lorcan had bought her, but Rose couldn't even remember what it had been. She had eaten lunch alone with Albus as well, and had then made her way to Muggle Studies, a class that Scorpius didn't take, which was just finishing now.

As the class was dismissed, all the students quickly filed out, a good half of them already hand in hand and rushing off together. Rose wasn't one for tacky holidays, but she was still a romantic. She herself was just about to leave when Professor Weasley, Rose's grandfather, stopped her and asked, "Rose, would you mind if I spoke to you for a moment?"

Rose looked around at the empty room, and Arthur shook his head, saying, "I know, I know, it's Valentine's Day and all, but I'll be quick, I promise."

Arthur Weasley was an adorable man, and was one of the few reasons why anybody took Muggle Studies anymore, as he was so enthusiastic when he taught. Now, he was standing behind his desk wearing a worn-out suit and fidgeting with his spectacles.

Rose, suddenly worried, as she was not the type of student who would be called to speak to the teacher after class, asked, "Is something wrong?"

Arthur looked confused, but then laughed and said, "Oh no, no, of course not. You're my very best student Rose, you know that. No, this is not school-related at all."

"Oh?" Rose asked curiously as she took a seat in a swivel chair, one of the ones Muggles apparently used in their offices, in front of her grandfather's desk.

"Actually, it's about Hugo," Arthur stated.

"Hugo?" Rose asked in surprise. Hugo didn't take Muggle Studies, and definitely didn't hang around classrooms unless he absolutely had to. "He's not even one of your students."

"Yes, I know," Arthur went on. "But you see, ever since the beginning of this year, I've been discussing some things with him. Things that he has chosen to keep secret from you and your parents."

"Secrets?" Rose asked, still confused and now worried as well. She had had enough secrets this year for a lifetime, many of which were still unresolved. She didn't need another.

"I'll let him tell you when he's ready," Arthur explained, trying to switch subjects. "But I actually wanted to speak to you about his upcoming birthday."

"Oh, I'm pretty sure his friends are planning something," Rose said. Hugo would be turning fourteen on the 29th of February, though of course that day would not actually occur this year, which is why Hugo liked to argue that it be celebrated on both the 28th as well as March 1st, just to be fair.

"Oh, good, I'm glad," Arthur sighed. "I just wanted to make sure. You know how sensitive he gets about these things, and I can't help but worry about him lately."

Rose laughed and said, "Don't be, he always has quite the celebration." Hugo's birthday was normally a weekend-long event, and this year would be taking place just after the Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff match at the end of the month.

"Splendid!" Arthur exclaimed. "Well, Rose, it's been nice talking to you. Now Happy Valentine's Day!"

"Happy Valentine's Day, Granddad," Rose said back as she gathered her books and walked out of the classroom. It had been an odd conversation that she didn't completely understand the point of. But come to think of it, Hugo had been acting strange lately, during Christmas break and now as well. Determined to uncover her brother's secret, Rose stomped up the stairs toward the common room.

Once on the seventh floor though, Rose didn't get the chance to go through the portrait hole, since Scorpius was waiting for her in the hallway. "Hey," he said, smiling like he had something up his sleeve. He also looked somewhat wet, as if he had just been outside in a rainstorm.

"Hi," Rose said, approaching him. "I haven't seen you all day. Where have you been?" This was her way of saying that she missed him, without actually sounding so cliché.

Scorpius smiled, knowing exactly what she meant. "I've missed you too, but I've been working on something that I think should make up for my absence."

"What?" Rose asked, but then Scorpius backed away and began pacing back and forth in front of the wall, just as Holly had done before. Once again, a large door appeared in front of them, and as it opened Scorpius gestured for Rose to head inside.

At first sight, Rose was sure that she had entered into a different world, or time, or both. What was once a cathedral filled with lost items had been transformed into a beautiful clearing in the middle of a forest. The floor was now a field of wild grasses, a mixture of different shades of green and brown. Around it, instead of tall windows, were equally large trees, covered in leaves of gold, orange, and red. Scorpius had made the Room of Requirement into the perfect representation of Rose's favorite season. Best of all though, it was raining.

The ceiling had been replaced with clouds similar to the ones found in the Great Hall on Halloween. Tiny raindrops were falling from them, slowly so as not to leave anything soaking wet, but still strong enough not to turn to mist once they reached the ground. Through it all, sharp rays of sunlight were piercing down upon everything.

Rose smiled and shook her head in disbelief. The only thing she could think of to say was, "I've always loved the rain."

"I know," Scorpius said from beside her. "Happy Valentine's Day, Rose."

After all of Scorpius's surprises, Rose should have expected something like this from him, but she was still in shock. "How did you do this?" she asked. From what she had read, the Room of Requirement couldn't quite grow itself an entire woodland, even if somebody asked for it.

"Well," Scorpius laughed. "It took some time, but I was able to get a pretty empty looking space from it after a while, only I had it filled with a few objects. Then I transfigured them all to make them seem like trees, and I had to do the floor to. The clouds and the rain, though, well you taught me that. Back when we were in our –"

"Second year," Rose answered for him. "I remember." To this day, it was one of her favorite charms, because it almost seemed more magical than others. Scorpius had had particular difficulty with learning it, and Rose had helped him practice for weeks to make sure he got it in time for his exam.

"So then," Scorpius said warily. "Does it look okay?"

Rose shook her head once again, now in even more disbelief over Scorpius's anxiety about his gift for her. Since she knew that words might not do the trick, she quickly walked toward him, grabbed hold of his wet hair, and kissed him. Being caught off guard, he didn't have time to reciprocate before Rose broke away and said, "I love you."

Scorpius smiled. "I love you too."

The two then made their way to a spot underneath one of the very realistic maple trees, where it was relatively dry. Rose could still see and hear the rain, but now it didn't have to get in the way.

As Scorpius sat down against the tree's trunk, with Rose close beside him, he started fiddling with his wand, making butterflies out of strands of grass. "What is it that you find so interesting about transfiguration?" Rose asked him, leaning against his shoulder and watching one of his creations land on his arm. It was the one subject that he had ever shown any interest in, and Rose had never understood where it came from.

"I dunno' really," Scorpius answered. "I suppose I just like the idea that you can take any little, insubstantial object and make it into something important, or something beautiful. And then, just as easily, you can make it disappear."

"Do you ever wish that you could make yourself disappear?" Rose asked, thinking about what had happened with Scorpius's mother this summer.

"All the time," Scorpius answered honestly. He wasn't usually this open about things, but Rose could feel him relax whenever she held his hand. "Don't you?" he asked.

Thinking about this, Rose too answered honestly, "All the time." She had been trying to ignore any more thoughts or dreams she'd been having about Filch's murder, but they tended to creep up on her when she least expected them to.

"You know, Al and I haven't given up," Scorpius reassured her. "We're still trying to figure out who it was."

They were no Aurors, but Rose was appreciative of having them there to protect her. In fact, one of the reasons she had been so attached to Scorpius lately was because she always felt safer around him. "I know," she said. "Me too."

Rose and Scorpius remained in their tiny oasis for a few more hours, until both became too hungry to ignore supper. After a nice meal with Al though, they went straight back.

"And GRYFFINDOR gains another ten points from Chaser Lily Potter! A tiny ball of fire she most certainly is," Lila Jordan announced from the stands. "That makes the score so far forty to zero for Gryffindor."

Rose, who was floating calmly on her broom just in front of the highest goal post, shivering from the cold, rolled her eyes at the way the Quidditch game was going so far. Lorcan, who flew beautifully on his own, had assembled quite the team this year. Rose didn't recognize any of the players, as they were all much younger than her, and none seemed to be able to get past mid-field. She was beginning to wonder how they had ever scored against Ravenclaw, as they hadn't yet gotten anywhere near Rose, and it was looking like they never would.

The Gryffindor team, on the other hand, seemed to be in complete harmony, which Rose was thankful for, considering all of the drama that could easily have made its way onto the field. As it turned out, James hadn't told Caitlin about Cassidy at all, nor had he even requested to meet her in Hogsmeade that day Rose had seen them there. In fact, Caitlin had asked him to come so that she could break off their relationship. Of course, this meant that James no longer felt the need to be honest with her, and so Caitlin had no apparent reason to be angry with him or her sister, and nor did Sam. The only visible tension within the team seemed to be between Rose and Lily, whom she was still angry with, but luckily they didn't have to work together much.

"And yet another goal for GRYFFINDOR, made by our veteran Chaser, Cassidy Finnigan!" yelled Lila, just after Cassidy had scored an easy goal, throwing the quaffle past an absent-minded Keeper who looked like he was about ready to puke for fear of heights.

They had only been playing for about a half an hour at this point, but it was already a blowout. Even the Hufflepuff students from the crowds below had resorted to cheering for Gryffindor, as it seemed pointless to do otherwise. Rose could have been standing on the ground, and it wouldn't make a difference. All this was actually quite sad, Rose thought as she watched Lorcan make an impressive pass of the bludger, only to have Sam hit it straight back after flying in front of Hufflepuff's other Beater. They obviously had no chance, and it now looked as if James had already spotted the snitch.

James had been scouting only a few yards away from Rose for most of the match, just waiting for the snitch to appear. Now that the team had earned a fair enough amount of points, it was safe for him to go after the golden ball once he saw it. As soon as he did, he was off.

Now, James was diving past Rose, the Hufflepuff Seeker still having failed to notice his opponent on the move. As he continued to gain ground on it, chasing after the ball in the wide open air, the other side of the pitch was crowded with all the players but James and Rose. She couldn't see through them very well, but it sounded from Lila's commentary that Lily had hold of the quaffle yet again.

Sure enough, Gryffindor scored their sixth goal a few seconds later, not long before James caught the snitch, signaling the end of the match. "Congratulations to GRYFFINDORwiththeir second win of the season, beating Hufflepuff two hundred and ten points to nothing!"

The crowd cheered then, though they weren't as enthusiastic as they usually were. It had been a pretty boring match, and hadn't lasted long at all. After the two teams shook hands, the Gryffindors headed to the locker rooms to change. While the Chasers plus Sam and Fred talked about all the goals they had made, Rose walked up to James and patted him on the back in congratulations.

"Looks like you're back in the game," she said. "How does it feel?"

James smiled fully, something that Rose hadn't seen on him in a while. It hadn't been hard for him to catch the snitch, having had barely any competition, but Rose knew that didn't matter. Looking around the locker room, James answered, "Feels like I never left."

The two walked out together, until Rose found Scorpius waiting for her by the bottom of a goal post, his footprints having left a trail in the snow for her to follow. "I'll see you up there," James said to Rose as he noticed Scorpius, before catching up to the rest of the team to follow them back to Gryffindor Tower.

"Congratulations," Scorpius said as Rose neared him. She exhaled strongly, thinking about the fact that she hadn't even needed to move throughout the entire game.

Looking back at Scorpius, she noticed a slight smirk on his face and said, "Hey, don't be too happy. I know we have less points than you right now, but it won't stay that way for long." Slytherin was in the lead against the other houses after winning the Ravenclaw match, with a total of 420 points, as opposed to Gryffindor's 410.

"Oh, come on, at least let me have the pleasure of being in the lead for a minute. You guys have been hogging the title for years," Scorpius whined. He did have a point though, considering that ever since James had come around, Gryffindor had won the Quidditch House Cup every year.

Still, this didn't mean that Rose was just going to hand it over to the next-best team. "Never," she answered smugly.

Scorpius laughed and suggested, "How about we discuss the matter over a walk?" He was referring to them going to their newly improved Room of Requirement hideout. Rose was tempted by the offer, but she had other plans.

"I can't," she answered disappointedly. Seeing Scorpius's questioning expression, she said, "Hugo's Birthday Celebration, remember? It's starting now, and lasting through tomorrow as well. I would invite you, but the first part of the extravaganza is taking place in our common room." Even more importantly, Rose thought to herself, she had yet to discover what was going on with Hugo, and now would be the perfect time to keep a close eye on him.

"Oh, right," Scorpius said, remembering that Rose had told him about it earlier. Moving closer to her, he put his hands on her waist and asked, "Tomorrow then?"

"Definitely," Rose nodded, giving him a kiss. "You can even come to the snowman building competition," she added as he let go of her.

"There's a snowman competition?" he asked in surprise.

"Of course," Rose answered while walking backward across the snowy field. "It's tradition!"

Scorpius rolled his eyes before kinking his eyebrows and running after her while asking, "Will you be building one?"

"I might be," Rose answered as she faced forward again. "In fact, I might even be the reigning champion, but I wouldn't dare tell you that unless I was sure you'd join in, of course."

"Oh I'm joining," Scorpius said. "And you just wait, because you know which spells are perfect for building snowmen?" He didn't even give Rose the chance to respond before answering himself, "Transfiguration."

Rose stopped walking then, gaping at Scorpius and asking, "Is that a threat?"

Mimicking her, he turned around to walk backward, shrugged, and answered, "It might be." She then ran after him and starting hitting him repeatedly with her broom the whole way back to the castle.

By the time Rose had bid Scorpius farewell for the day and hauled herself up to the top of the castle, the common room was already packed with people. It was decorated with red and gold as was the norm after every Quidditch match, but also had banners reading 'Happy Birthday Hugo' pinned up on the balcony, and some even hanging in mid-air.

As she squeezed her way through everyone, most of whom were chatting with their small groups of friends, Rose noticed that Hugo, who was normally the center of attention (particularly on these two days), wasn't anywhere in sight. She did, however, bump into Nigel, who was standing alone in the corner, not far from Fred and Lila, who seemed to be dueling with each other.

"Nigel!" She exclaimed, practically yelling to make sure she was heard over the rest of the students. "Where's the birthday boy?"

Nigel shrugged, looking worried. "I haven't seen him since the match ended."

This was particularly puzzling to Rose, since Hugo never missed a celebration. It may have been probable if he had lost one of his Quidditch bets, but he nearly always put his money on Gryffindor, especially when Hufflepuff was involved, so he couldn't have lost anything today.

Thinking back to what her grandfather had told her, and to the row she had witnessed between Hugo and Nigel the other day, Rose asked, "Has everything been okay with him lately?"

"Well I – I mean, I – I think so," Nigel answered, reminding Rose of his older brother's persistent stuttering. He was looking away from her as he said it, and she couldn't help but assume that there was in fact something wrong, and that Nigel at least knew more on the matter than she did. Even if that was the case though, he didn't seem to want to tell her anything.

"Well, what about Lily?" Rose asked, hoping to get some answers. Lily always knew everybody's secrets, and apparently didn't have much of a problem with sharing them.

Nigel shrugged again, unable to point Rose in the right direction. She was about to ask Fred or Lila when Nigel nudged her arm and said, "Rose, if you find Hugo, could you tell him that I'd really like to talk to him?" He looked hurt and helpless, and Rose wanted nothing more than to give him an enormous hug.

Instead, though, she settled by saying, "Of course I will," before moving on. She was hesitant to get in between Fred and Lila at this moment, as they seemed to be quite focused. Still, Rose knew they were only dueling for fun, as she had done many times before with Al, so she stood just outside their range of fire and waited for one of them to notice her.

After Lila hit Fred with a stunning spell, knocking him across the room and against Sam Thomas's back, she smiled with pride and then turned to Rose. "Hey, you need something?"

Rose hadn't interacted much with Lila before, though she seemed like a nice enough girl. She had been best friends with Fred ever since she was little, as their parents were quite close, and both she and Fred were known to have impressive senses of humor. That was why Hugo admired the two of them so much, though he was closer with Fred's younger sister, Roxanne, who was in Hugo's same year.

"Yes, actually," Rose answered. "Have you seen Lily anywhere?"

Lila looked around for a moment before pointing to the far side of the room, where Lily and Roxanne were making their way down the staircase from their dormitory. "She's over there," Lila said.

Rose quickly spotted her cousins, and said thank you to Lila before heading toward them. As she approached, she heard plenty of giggling coming from the two 3rd years, and Rose knew right away that she would not serve as a pleasant interruption into whatever insignificant conversation they were having.

"Oh, Rose," Lily said as she made her way down the last step. "Hi." She was already speaking with a condescending tone. It had always been difficult for Rose to stay angry with people, especially close friends and family, but she did resent Lily for what she had announced to everyone on Christmas. Her relationship with Scorpius had not been Lily's secret to share, and Lily should have realized this.

"Rose," Roxanne said, much more cheerfully. "Congrats on the match! Hopefully that'll be me next year."

Rose smiled and nodded. Roxanne would be after Cassidy's Chaser position once the Finnigan girl left school. "You've got a good chance, I suspect," Rose said.

Turning back to Lily, she continued, "Look, have either of you two seen Hugo anywhere?"

Roxanne shook her head, and Lily answered, "No, not for a while anyway. I walked back with him after the game, but he said he needed to go somewhere before we got to the Fat Lady." While most referred to the painting in the hallway that acted as the door into Gryffindor Tower as the portrait hole, Lily tended to be more blunt in expressing such things. Rose supposed that sort of thing happened often when a girl grew up with multiple older brothers.

Rose, still not sure where Hugo had gone off to, asked, "He didn't say where he was going?"

"No," Lily replied. "He just started walking in the other direction once we got to the floor."

Suddenly, Rose knew where her brother was. The only other place to go on the seventh floor of the castle was the one place that few people knew about, but that Hugo had discovered at the same time as Rose: the Room of Requirement. Nodding to herself, Rose said to Lily, "Okay well, thanks anyway," and then turned and left.

Once again, Rose had to push through the crowd, this time to get away from everybody, but luckily she didn't bump into any distractions along the way. Once in the hall, she walked a ways until she found Barnabas the Barmy and looked around to make sure no one was watching. She then walked back and forth in front of the wall three times, concentrating all her thoughts on the only place Hugo would have known to think of: that same room where all of the objects had been hidden, and where she and Scorpius had found the potions book that they had later given to Al. She supposed that he might have wanted a change in scenery, but if he had asked for such, it would have been nearly impossible for him to be found by anyone. He may not have admitted to it, but Hugo always wanted to be found.

As soon as the door appeared, Rose rushed into the room and nearly tripped over the pile of burnt books that was still sitting by the entrance. "Hugo!" she called, not seeing him anywhere. "Are you in here?" In order for the room to have opened, it meant that Rose had to have been right about Hugo choosing this particular room, or that nobody was inside after all.

She didn't get a response though, and she was beginning to feel uneasy. She was responsible for Hugo when they were at school, and if anything were to have happened to him, physically or emotionally, she would never be able to forgive herself for not having not protected him.

Walking around the pile of books, Rose retraced her footsteps from the time she was in here before, making her way over to the cabinet she had opened. She kept her eyes peeled as she went, and was just about to pass the golden-bordered mirror when she spotted her family's signature red hair just in front of it.

Hugo was sitting by the enormous piece of glass, a few old armchairs stacked behind him that Rose would have to crawl under. She did so, not bothering to say anything, since Hugo would be able to hear her coming, and came out the other side only to see a reflection in the mirror that she hadn't expected it to show.

Scorpius had his hand clasped around hers, and both of them were smiling. Centered around them were their parents, Astoria Malfoy on the outside smiling down at her son, Draco next to her laughing. Hermione was on the other side, behind Rose and holding onto her arm. Finally, Ron was beside her, and had one hand on Rose's shoulder and the other on Scorpius's. He too was laughing, as if he and Draco had just shared a joke with each other.

Rose turned around instinctively, but she already knew that what she saw wouldn't be there. "It can't be…" Rose marveled, forgetting for a moment that there was another person beside her.

"The Mirror of Erised," Hugo finished her thought. He was sitting in the same spot Rose had seen him in before, and was staring at the mirror not with wonder, but with what looked to Rose like indignation.

"You don't mean…?" Rose had read about this mirror, but she thought it had been destroyed.

"I show not your face but your heart's desire," Hugo stated. "It's inscribed in the frame."

Rose looked up at the gold adornment and read to herself from the very top, Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. She didn't understand it at first, until Hugo said, "Try reading it backwards," after which Rose found the exact phrase that Hugo had just expressed.

"So," he said then. "Let me guess… you and Scorpius?"

Rose nodded as she sat down next to her younger brother and said, "Sort of."

"I came back here after we'd left that day, and I found this," Hugo explained. From his serious tone of voice, Rose could only assume that what he was looking at in the mirror was not just him inheriting their Uncle George's joke shop or winning the Quidditch House Cup as the Gryffindor team Captain, both of which he had always aspired to. It sounded like there was a lot more to it than that. Thinking about what Hugo might desire most, Rose had the sudden urge to ask, "Is Dad in it?" If she had anything in common with her brother, it was that they both desperately wanted to please Ron, though they achieved this in very different ways.

Hugo finally looked away from the mirror to face Rose, and then nodded. "What else do you see?" she asked quietly.

He was sniffling now, and Rose could see his eyes watering as his cheeks once again turned to the same color as his hair, so much so that his freckles were barely visible anymore. "I'm not supposed to be like this," he said, staring at his hands that were fidgeting in his lap.

Rose bit her lip, waiting for him to say what he needed to say. Just like her grandfather had told her, she couldn't pressure him. He needed to be ready.

"I'm supposed to be the Quidditch player that he's always wanted to be," he said, making Rose shift positions guiltily. "I'm supposed to be an Auror, just like him." Hugo had always looked up to Ron more than anyone, just like Al looked up to Harry. Only in this case, Ron was childish enough to actually be disappointed if his only son didn't turn out to be the man he had hoped for.

"Hugo, you can still be an Auror," Rose said, trying to cheer him up in the only way she knew how. She had never seen him like this, and didn't know exactly how to handle it.

Hugo shook his head, looking aggravated. "I'm not going to be an Auror. I can barely keep my wand in tact. Can you imagine if I tried to use it to save somebody's life or arrest a criminal? I'd probably kill the person!"

Rose chuckled. She didn't believe what Hugo was saying about himself, but she didn't protest either. It wouldn't be worth it.

"Do you want to know the worst part?" Hugo asked. "My best subject right now is History of Magic!" He sounded disgusted, and Rose could tell that he was trying to make light of their somber conversation.

Rose smiled at this, as it was so like Hugo. Anybody else would be thrilled to have marks that were above average in Professor Binns's class, as it was the most difficult learning environment combined with the strictest teacher. Hugo, however, had always had a secret talent for memorization, one of the few traits that he had inherited from Hermione rather than Ron.

"So obviously," Hugo continued, getting back on course now. "You would think that my heart's desire would have something to do with being the best at Defense Against the Dark Arts or Charms instead, or to even finally get on the Quidditch team…" He trailed off after this, as if it he didn't know how to tell Rose what he had actually seen in the mirror.

To try to help him along, Rose asked, "What did you really see, Hugo?"

After another long moment, Hugo finally answered, "Nigel."

This was a reply that Rose hadn't seen coming. Though Nigel raved about Hugo whenever he had the chance, Hugo had never reciprocated the gesture. Still, they were best friends, and with Hugo's popularity he could have chosen to be best friends with anybody.

"Rose," Hugo said, turning her back to him. He had let a tear trickle down now, and Rose's heart ached just by looking at him. "I think I might be gay."

Now, Rose was caught even more off guard. Hugo was so young, only fourteen on this day, and he acted even younger. So while he hadn't ever shown much interest in girls, nobody had questioned it, assuming the feelings might take some time to show themselves.

"How – How long have you felt like this?" Rose asked, wanting more information while at the same time trying to keep talking so as not to make Hugo more uncomfortable than he already was.

"I dunno'," Hugo said honestly. "I mean, I've never really felt otherwise."

Rose nodded. She was still trying to take it all in, but she already knew that it wouldn't change anything. It was difficult for her to wrap her mind around the news, but when she looked at Hugo, he was still the same immature yet lovable kid that she had always known him to be. Rose was good at refraining judgment, something that she had learned from her mother.

"And how does Nigel feel?" Rose asked. She figured the best way to approach this revelation, being that Hugo was so worried about it, was to treat it like it was any other crush. She also thought that this would bring the best possible results, since she was pretty sure (considering how Nigel had acted at Hugo's party just from not seeing him there) that he felt exactly the same way Hugo did.

"I think we both sort of realized it at the same time, but he seems to be handling it a lot better. He's already told his family and everything." This must have been what the letter at Christmas had been about.

"Is that what you two have been fighting about lately?" Rose asked.

Hugo nodded. "It sort of started a few months ago, when I broke my wand. Lily had dared me to try out this spell, only it was really tricky and she said that if I messed it up, it could make the whole compartment explode or something. Of course, I didn't believe her, but Nigel did. He tried to stop me, but I did it anyway, and it sort of rebounded onto my wand. That's how I broke it.

"That night, I asked Nigel why he had cared so much, and he told me then. I didn't really know what to think of it at first, but then Granddad found me in the Great Hall one day and asked me what was wrong. I've been talking to him a lot lately, him and Nigel."

Listening to Hugo's story, Rose was beginning to wonder how she could have missed all of the signs that now seemed so obvious. Hugo had been struggling the entire year, yet Rose had been too concentrated on her own problems that she had failed to notice any of his. Of course now that she looked back on things, she remembered thinking how odd it had sounded that Cow, Hugo's miniature owl who was so small he could fit in the palm of Rose's hand, could have possibly broken Hugo's wand just by biting it. She wasn't happy with herself for being so oblivious, but she knew that there was nothing that could be done to change that. At the very least, she could try to be the sister she had always meant to be from this moment on.

"So, if you two are on the same page, what were you arguing for?" Rose asked concernedly.

"Whether or not we should tell everybody," Hugo said, adding, "Whether or not I should tell you."

Rose understood now that Hugo had been the one who had wanted to keep things secret, but that Nigel had convinced him to do otherwise. And so here Hugo was, waiting for her in a place where only she could find him.

"He's been asking me to for weeks," Hugo continued, "And Granddad's been telling me that it'll all work out and everything, but I didn't want to.

"Then I saw this," he gestured to the mirror. "It's not just some silly thing, Rose. This is who I am."

Remembering how the conversation had started, Rose asked, "And Dad, you said he was in the reflection as well?"

"Yeah, he's on my other side, saying he's proud of me." He was crying more intensely now, barely able to get out the words as he whimpered, "How am I going to tell him, Rosie?"

Rose didn't answer, even though it was clear that it wasn't a rhetorical question. Hugo really wanted to know, and she was the only person who would have any sort of answer, but she still didn't know what to say. He had put so much pressure on himself just writing to Ron that he had broken his wand, and this would be a thousand times harder.

"After what he said to you at Christmas," Hugo sobbed. "I can't have him look at me like that."

Nodding, Rose pulled Hugo into her arms, making him look away from the mirror and bury himself in her shoulder. "I know," she said. "I know."

Seeing people in pain wasn't something that Rose could ever seem to get used to. She cared about everybody who was a part of her life, so much so that each time one of them came to her for consolation, she ended up feeling like she needed somebody to comfort her back. She was glad that people trusted her enough to share their secrets, but she was so close to them that there were times when it felt like doing so was an extremely heavy burden.

This didn't mean that she was ready to abandon any of them, though, because they had never abandoned her when she was most in need of support. So as she pushed back the water that was beginning to form behind her own eyes, she said to Hugo, "You know, they say that the happiest man on the earth would look into this mirror and see only himself, exactly how he is.

"I know that our father acts as if he expects certain things from us, like he expects us to be great, and accomplished, and talented, because that's all that he has ever wanted. But he's also a parent, and I know that deep down, the only thing he and Mum really want is for us to be happy – for us to look into this mirror and see only ourselves, exactly how we are.

"If this is who you are, Hugo, if this is what makes you happy, then he'll have to accept that, and I really believe that he loves you enough to do that. Because if he didn't, then why would we ever try to impress him so much in the first place?"

Both were laughing lightly now, because each of them understood how much they loved their father, and how much he had always loved them. He could be selfish at times, but he worshipped Rose and Hugo just as much as they worshipped him, so Rose knew he'd come around eventually.

Rose stood up then, offering a hand for Hugo, but he refused to take it. Instead, he got up on his own, took out his wand and said with a flick and a swish, "Wingardium Leviosa!"moving the chairs out of the way so that he and Rose could walk straight through.

Chuckling to herself, Rose said, "See, that's one spell I've always had trouble with."

"Really?" Hugo asked. "Huh. I think it might be the only one I've ever been any good at."

Rose smiled and said jokingly, "That may be true, but you do have many other talents."

Hugo looked to her in confusion, and Rose said, "You can eat more in one sitting than anyone I have ever met."

They started to crack up at this, and Rose was happy to see that Hugo would be okay. "Which is why," she continued. "You'd better get to the common room before you miss out on your own birthday cake."

Widening his eyes, Hugo went straight into panic mode, and gave Rose a quick hug before racing out the door to get back to his celebration. Rose followed at a much slower pace, trying to leave the room as stealthily as possible.

Upon exiting though, Rose discovered that Scorpius was sitting against the wall at the other side of the corridor, waiting for her like he seemed to be doing so often these days. This time in particular, Rose was immensely grateful for his presence. Sometimes, she could have sworn that he could tell the exact moments when she needed him the most.

Rose approached slyly, surprising him since he had his head down, directed at the floor. "Have you been here all afternoon?" she asked, waking him up and making him lift his head to see her standing right above him.

Scorpius pulled himself up to a standing position before answering, "I just thought I might check and see if you'd changed your mind about the party."

Smiling at Scorpius's pathetic excuse, Rose said, "I missed you too."

They kissed then, and as soon as they broke apart Rose hugged him tightly, closing her eyes and smelling the fresh, clear, and rainy scent of his skin.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Scorpius whispered in her ear.

"Nothing," Rose answered, not wanting to tell Hugo's secret before he was ready for other people to know. "Not anymore."

Scorpius then pulled her apart from him momentarily, only to take her hand and lead her in a pace across the hall. This time, when the door opened, Rose was met not with a space filled to the brim with thousands of unwanted items, but instead a perfect clearing in the middle of a forest, as fresh and pure as the lightest possible drop of rain.

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